How to Lose Weight on a Deadline

If you want to lose 10 pounds fast, you don't have time to start a diet delivery plan, hire a personal trainer, or read self-help books. You need a no-nonsense approach that accomplishes two basic things:

  • Burns more calories than you consume
  • Provides ample nutrition irrespective of the calorie count

The bottom line is that you want to be both sensible and realistic in your approach. While some people can shed 10 pounds in a few weeks, the amount you lose ultimately depends on your starting weight, your current health and age, and your commitment to a holistic plan involving diet and exercise.


Establish Your Goals and Intentions

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To begin, start by outlining why you want to lose the weight. If it is because you're preparing for an event or are simply tired of carrying around the extra pounds, write it down on paper. As basic as this may seem, it sets your intention and allows you to evaluate your goals objectively.

If your aim is to fit into a size-6 dress in time for your high school reunion, you can assess how realistic that goal is within the prescribed time frame.

On the other hand, if you are simply fed up and want to lose the weight now, you may want to take another look at your intentions. Oftentimes, if you steamroll into a weight-loss plan, you will quickly lose steam if you don't reach your goal fast.

Healthy weight loss occurs at a rate of around one to two pounds per week. Most experts will tell you that losing anything more is unwise, increasing the risk of nutritional deficiencies, muscle loss, hair loss, and menstrual irregularities. 

By establishing your goals from the start, you can assess how attainable they are and what you need to do to achieve them. 


Calculate How Many Calories You Usually Eat

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Weight loss is all about consuming fewer calories than you burn during routine activity. The best way to figure this out is by writing down everything you eat or in the course of a day.

Since you're on a deadline, you won't have time to keep a food diary to track your intake over a week. Instead, just sit down and crunch the numbers, listing everything you eat and drink on a normal day. You can then use a nutritional counter to add up how many calories you consume in a 24-hour period.

Try not to pad the list with indulgent foods you only eat occasionally. The goal is to get your baseline intake so that you can determine exactly how many calories you need to cut back.


Calculate How Many Calories You Need to Cut

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An average woman needs to about 2,000 calories per day to maintain her normal weight and 1,500 calories per to lose one pound per week. An average man needs around 2,500 and 2,000 calories, respectively, to do the same.

If you are overweight, it is likely you are consuming more than this. As such, it would be unrealistic to think you can suddenly drop from 3,500 calories to 1,500 calories per day and remain healthy. You won't. This is especially true if you are older, are largely inactive, or have medical conditions to manage.

To this end, use an online weight loss calculator to determine how many calories you need to cut back on based on your age, height, current weight, activity level, and target date. The great thing about the calculator is that it will tell you if your weight loss goals are too ambitious and will likely put you at risk.

In terms of danger zones, you should never consume less than 1,200 calories per day if you're a woman or 1,500 calories per day if you're a man. For some, even these figures are too aggressive.


Work out Your Diet Plan

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Now that you've done your initial calculations, you can subtract the recommended caloric intake from the number of calories you currently consume.

For example, if you currently consume 2,800 calories per day and need to eat no more than 2,000 to lose a pound or two per week, that leaves you with 800 calories you need to cut.

But rather than just saying "I'll cut out all bread," take the time to build a weekly menu that is both balanced and meets your daily nutritional needs. While you can certainly take a daily supplement to replace lost nutrients, but it is far better to do so with food rather than tablets.

According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a balanced diet should contain ample quantities of vegetables, fruits, beans, and grains (whole and refined) and only moderate amounts of chicken, fish, lean meat, and low-fat dairy.

On top of that, no more than 15 to 29 grams of oil (unsaturated and/or polyunsaturated) should be consumed per day. Less than 10 percent of the calories should come from added sugars and less than 10 percent from saturated fats.

Based on these parameters, take the time to work out a balanced menu rather than cutting out things. It may take a little more time, but it will definitely pay off in the end.


Get Active

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If you want to meet your weight loss goal within a specific time frame, you cannot do it without exercise. Remember that the weight loss equation is based on burning more calories than you consume. By increasing your activity level, even by as little as 10 minutes per day, you will be burning fuel faster than you did when you first started.

Start with a simple five-minute routine to get you started and make an effort week-on-week to increase the intensity and duration of your workout. This is not only a realistic approach, but it also helps to develop a lifelong habit you can maintain once your weight loss goal is met.

But don't overdo it. Overexercising is more likely to put you on the fast-track to injury than weight loss. By taking a day or two off per week, you give your muscles a chance to recover, strengthen, and grow after strenuous activity. On your days off, enjoy a walk with a friend and do other activities you enjoy to reward yourself.

By keeping active, a little every day, you will begin to see the results before you know it.


Track Your Progress

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While most of us measure our weight loss by stepping on the scale, it is equally important to keep track of the tools for weight loss, namely the number of calories you eat and the amount of activity you put in. 

It is all about discipline. By counting every calorie and logging your exercise hours, you can stay firmly on track while better understanding how each contributes to your weight loss goals.

For example, if you are adherent to your diet, you can see if certain activities, such as swimming or biking, help lose weight faster than others. This allows you to play around and find out what works best for you as an individual.

You can keep track of these figures with a diet app or activity tracker easily downloaded onto your smartphone. In the end, the more you measure, the more you will keep with the program even after the first 10 pounds are lost.

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